Researchers from Michigan Medicine have found that only 16% of men had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine
Using data from the 2010-2018 National Health Interview Surveys, the researchers discovered that only 16% of men, aged 18-21 years, had received at least one dose of the HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccine compared to 42% of women.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends two doses of the vaccine at 11 or 12 years old.
The HPV vaccine was designed to prevent reproductive warts and cancers caused by the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. It was approved by the FDA for women in 2006 to prevent cervical cancer but it was expanded to men in 2009.
Now, oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the throat, tonsils, and back of the tongue, has surpassed cervical cancer as the leading cancer caused by HPV and 80% of those diagnosed with it are men.
“Eighteen- to 21-year-olds are at this age where they’re making health care decisions on their own for the first time,” says Michelle M. Chen, M.D., a clinical lecturer in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the first author of the study.
“They’re in a period of a lot of transition, but young adult men especially, who are less likely to have a primary care doctor, are often not getting health education about things like cancer prevention vaccines.”
“I don’t think that a lot of people, both providers and patients, are aware that this vaccine is actually a cancer-prevention vaccine for men as well as women,” Chen says. “But HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer can impact anyone — and there’s no good screening for it, which makes vaccination even more important.”
The full study, HPV Vaccination Among Young Adults in the US, has been published in JAMA.